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DUI Alcohol/Drug Rehab

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In 2008, an estimated 31 million people over the age of 12 reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the prior year and 10 million people reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.1 A DUI charge can be a sign of an underlying drug and/or alcohol problem requiring treatment. Fortunately, alcohol/drug rehab programs can help DUI defendants deal with their substance abuse problem and improve their health and quality of life. Rehab can also decrease or eliminate consequences of a DUI charge such as jail time, DWI fines and driver's license suspension.

If you or someone you love has been charged with DUI/DWI, an experienced DUI lawyer will know how to obtain alcohol and/or drug treatment and prevail upon a judge to allow rehabilitation as an alternative to a common penalty for DUI arrest like custody and fines.

Drug/Alcohol Rehab & DUI Sentence

For many defendants arrested for DUI, chemical dependency or alcoholism may have played a role in the behavior that led to their arrest. Approximately one in 16 adults have severe problems with drinking and millions more are engaged in what experts consider risky drinking.2 Accordingly, in most states a defendant who is convicted of an impaired driving charge (including first offenders of DUI, DWI or other similar charge) must attend drug and/or education programs and undergo an evaluation to determine whether drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation treatment is needed.

Symptoms & Signs of Alcohol or Drug Addiction

Multiple DUI offenses may be a sign that a person is addicted to alcohol or drugs. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, other signs and symptoms include:

  • Craving for, strong need for, or continued use of alcohol or other drugs despite the negative consequences
  • A greater tolerance to alcohol or other drugs as evidenced by the need for increased amounts of alcohol or other drugs to get high
  • Loss of control over the amount of alcohol or other drugs used or the time and place of use
  • Physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms when alcohol or other drugs are stopped

Alcohol and drug rehabilitation can help break the cycle of addiction as well as reduce the legal consequences associated with DUI/DWI. To learn more, speak to a DUI attorney.

When a defendant seeks treatment voluntarily, he or she is more likely to find a program and facility well-matched for his or her needs, and in turn has a greater likelihood of success in recovery. Furthermore, voluntary treatment demonstrates to the court a vested interest in recovery and therefore increases the chances of leniency in sentencing, especially in a DUI first offense. If a defendant does not seek treatment prior to conviction, he/she will be required to accept the court's recommended treatment program.

Alcohol/drug rehab can positively affect the outcome of a DUI case. Though the DUI laws vary by state, benefits may include:


Diversion. In some states, certain defendants have the opportunity to "divert" their case out of the criminal court system (and avoid a criminal record) by successfully completing a rehabilitation program. These programs are usually available to first time offenders charged with non-violent DUI crimes only. If the defendant fails to complete the program and/or commits another offense, he or she will likely be prosecuted for the original DUI charge.

Reduction of Jail Time and Fines. Many states allow judges the discretion to credit inpatient rehabilitation against jail time for driving while intoxiated arrest, and/or towards a fine. Judges often look favorably upon defendants who voluntarily enter a rehabilitation program in an attempt to overcome their disease.

Reinstatement of Driver's License. Even in states where the courts do not have mandatory education and/or treatment, the Department of Motor Vehicles often requires education and/or treatment programs as a condition to get your license back.

Hardship Permit. If your license has been suspended, your lawyer may be able to get you a hardship permit to drive to an alcohol or drug treatment or rehabilitation program.

A person who has been charged with DUI should speak to an attorney as soon as possible about the legal benefits to participating in DUI classes or an alcohol/drug rehab program following a DUI charge.

Rehab Facility

Researching Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers

When searching for a quality drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for you or a loved one, you may wish to ask each potential treatment center if they:

  • Create a treatment plan for each client with specific, measurable goals
  • Provide for family involvement
  • Provide for aftercare
  • Are willing to report back to the court (or probation official) to help enforce compliance with an order for treatment
  • Have medical backup to ensure safe detoxification and healthcare, if required
  • Are sensitive to ethnic, gender, and other differences that might affect treatment effectiveness
  • Have bilingual capability, if needed

If you or a loved one is considering treatment at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, a DUI attorney who has experience working with alcohol and drug rehab facilities will be able to assist you in your search.

Source: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

In 1958, the American Medical Association declared alcoholism a disease. Though some DUI offenders are treated on an outpatient basis at a rehab facility, many begin treatment on an inpatient basis, meaning the defendant checks into a hospital or rehab facility's program (which is often intensive and lasts 21 to 28 days, or longer). For example, patients who need detox may wish to enroll at a rehab facility or rehab hospital. During detox, the physical symptoms (i.e., convulsions, vomiting, sweating) of withdrawal are lessened and the patient is physically stabilized (usually under medical supervision) and prepared for the next phase of rehabilitation and treatment. Some additional reasons DUI defendants might go to an alcohol/drug rehab facility include:

  • A problem with alcohol AND drug abuse
  • Multiple DUI offenses
  • Outpatient programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have been ineffective
  • By court order

Treatment may continue on an outpatient basis and/or in supportive living environments (i.e., sober living environments). Nurses, physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists, substance abuse/addiction counselors, fitness and recreation specialists and spiritual care professionals may be involved in the rehab program.

Enrollment in alcohol/drug rehab programs stemming from a DUI charge can vary greatly and may depend on a variety of factors such as whether the defendant sought treatment voluntarily, the number of offenses, the evaluation, testimony by employees of the rehab facility and the laws of the jurisdiction. Speak to a DUI attorney in your area to learn more.

Drug/Alcohol Treatment

In 2006, 23.6 million persons (over 12 years old) needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem.3 According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, combining treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment might include medications that can help patients manage the symptoms of withdrawal (such as nausea, shakes and sweating), stay in treatment (by reducing cravings and allowing the patient to focus) and prevent relapse (by managing triggers). Some of the popular behavioral treatment philosophies include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is based on the idea that the way we think causes our feelings and actions, not external things like people, situations, and events. Therapy sessions are usually briefer and fewer in number than other types of therapy.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET). MET is based on the idea that the responsibility and capacity for change comes from the patient. The therapist helps evoke the patient's motivation and commitment for change and assists the patient in developing his or her own goals. MET is conducted individually (though family members may be present) in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Twelve-Step Self-Help Programs. Self-help groups are frequently sought for help with alcohol abuse. AA, one of the most well-known self-help programs, outlines 12 steps alcoholics should achieve during their recovery. Participation in self-help programs can occur before, during and/or after rehabilitation.

A DUI lawyer can help you find a rehab program and will work with the facility for assessment (in or out of custody), enrollment, court appearances (for acceptance, progress reports and completion), and alcohol and drug test monitoring.

DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for driving while under then influence, the consequences are potentially very serious — even if you are a first-time offender. As a result, it is very important that you contact an experienced DUI attorney who can fight to maintain your freedom and help get you on the road to recovery.

1 National Institute on Drug Abuse
2 Harvard Medical School
3 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) National Survey on Drug Use and Health